Fantastic! Lucky me to be picked to review this book. In summation it’s an adult equivalent of the
Harry Potter series but I must qualify that with one disclaimer: I’ve never read a Harry Potter book. Besides, reviewers
don’t get off that lightly even if they have, and so to the specifics.
The book’s dynamic cover shows lightning over a field of ancient ceremonial stones. Superimposed are
symbols currently fueling the debate among historians of the influence of "Shriners" (Masons of the Temple of Scottish Rites
or some such) on US history. Specifically the emblems are also incorporated into the US one-dollar bill, the eye and the obelisk
or sword shape. I predict this to be a good omen for the book’s sales. Throughout the text are excellent visual sketches
of the imaginary characters as interpreted by Jane Starr-Weils. Current photos of the sites mentioned grant authenticity to
The story takes place in 17th century Scotland with abundant action, including sex and violence,
for the price. As Ayn Rand wrote, a writer should give the reader their money’s worth if free enterprise in the publishing
world is to flourish and Jeanne Treat emphatically does just that. The plot, rich in paranormal powers and mysticism, twists
and turns with swiftness and agility equal to the action of the Celtic sword that plays a defining role in the story. The
characters are well and truly drawn. Many would be writers if only they could create an evil character as truly as this author
did. Finding good in sometimes bad people and the reverse is common but pure evil is more complex, at least in current American
writing. Perhaps this is a result of our heterogeneity. Jeanne Treat, in this her first novel, owns villain characterization
in my opinion. The history of the period, the daily life of the people from the highest noble to the lowest peasant and the
science of the primitive healing arts were obviously thoroughly researched. Life in individual families as well as local communities
was masterfully captured. The author depicted the deep love, scalding competitiveness, pride, loyalty and vengefulness involved
in such relationships quite realistically.
I am thankful that the sex and violence were not hybridized. I, so far, have found violent sex to be an intolerable
combination. As noted in my previous reviews I am no voyeur when it comes to sex. This writer handles the sex with a beauty
that is both artful and appropriate. I am even less appreciative of violence particularly when handled as realistically as
in this story. Yet that is one place where the written word as art form is far superior to theater and video. The performing
art viewer is forced to take violence or leave it in one gulp or lose the story line. A reader can put the book down and come
back to it when it becomes too graphic, taking it in more tolerable bits. Believe me, with this writer, you will come back.
Description is both a delightful strength and the only weakness of the author. Occasionally she breaks one
of the written word’s commandments. If not the first commandment, then it should be: Do not insult the intelligence
of your reader with repetition. Even if, PERHAPS, it emphasizes the character of one of the main figures? I found the first
description of the coast of Scotland and the tactile pleasure of heather and flowers in the field wonderful. I question that
it required repetition particularly as it noticeably slowed the progress to the second phase of the plot. Later, detailed
repetition of an action merely to inform a character in the novel is not defendable.
The reader should be prepared for false endings. Perhaps this is due to the author’s enthusiasm but
it is more a welcome bonus for the reader. Be prepared to be introduced to alternative ancient religions, the latter particularly
in the first part of the novel. Since this "new" theology is so in-line with the current versions of such theological questions
as the "gender" of God, the cycles of life, etc., I only mention it because traditional fundamentalists are a part of the
American book market. Perhaps they need the challenge but, as with Harry Potter, they may choose to avoid it. What a loss!
Magnificent human creativity!